60% of children say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying and one in three teenagers have encountered some form of cyber threat. If you find those statistics surprising consider that children are exposed to technology more now than ever. Toddlers as young as two have their own iPad or tablet and are exposed to screen time more frequently than any other generation.
90% percent of victims of cyberbullying do not inform a parent or guardian of the abuse, that is an alarming statistic. Cyberbullying can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts and it often goes unnoticed unlike its more noticeable big brother.
So, in the day and age of technology leading the way, what can a concerned parent to? Well, communication is the key. It is crucial to have an honest and open relationship with your child. Explain to them what constitutes cyberbullying. The legal definition: “threats or other offense behavior sent online to a victim or sent or posted online about the victim to see.” In simpler terms: sending mean or hurtful messages, e-mails, tweets, photos etc. It is important to protect your child from cyberbullying but also save them from becoming the bully.
Tips to prevent cyberbullying:
- Tell your child that it is of the utmost importance that they tell you if they become a victim of cyberbullying.
- Install monitoring software on your child’s smart devices and tell your child that as a parent it is your responsibility to monitor interactions when you consider it necessary. Net Nanny is an example of monitoring software that allows you to monitor web content and activity on any device anywhere.
- Filter and block on your web browser. This tool limits access to certain sites, words or images. Some filters can apply to websites others to e-mail, chat and IM.
- Find out which social networks your child uses (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat most likely).
- Friend or follow your child on social media platforms or ask another adult to do it on your behalf, so that you can be kept in the loop with their social media interactions.
- Educate your child and show them examples of media (photos and videos) that could cause problems and incite bullying on social media.
- Never answer any comments or messages of bullies on social media.
- Block the bully (there are block options on all social media platform or the option to report a bully, you could also block the email address of the bully).
- Keep all evidence of cyber bullying including comments, emails and text messages.
- Remind your child the internet is forever. Even if something is deleted somewhere, some trace of it will still be found.